Think of the batting cage during practice like the local tavern. It is the gathering place where everyone knows your name.
Coaches, front office personnel and players ring the protective barrier. The subjects range from elements of the game to who did what last night — and with whom and where. The players are often creating contests — who can hit the most homers this round? — and the air becomes filled with good-natured, yet low-blow ribbing to those lagging behind in the competition accompanied by the boasting of the leaders. Flexes — verbal and physical — are standard.
Rounds go by. New people join, others depart. A throng persists. The noise, the banter, the revelry. The song remains the same.
It passes the time. It bonds. It is a daily tradition from the outset of spring training to the final day of the World Series.
So as major league baseball officially dipped its toe back onto the fields, the batting cage stood out. For its desolation. For its lack of frivolity and camaraderie. The new is masked and isolated and business only.
The Mets began their first spring training 2.0 workout Friday at 9 a.m. Perhaps 30 coaches, players and other personnel were…